Poles for Beginners

A forum to discuss everything to do with pole vaulting equipment: poles, pits, spikes, etc.

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Poles for Beginners

Unread postby jsw4283 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:10 pm

A little about me since this is my first post here, and I'm sure I'll be back many times. 5th year as head high school track and field coach my specialty has not been pole vault, but instead the jumps (long, triple, and high). In those five years my jumpers have been fairly successful culminating in 3 state champions and numerous other medals at the state level. My school has agreed to allow us to add pole vaulting to our program this year, and I have never vaulted in my life...my coaches when I competed didn't like the fact that I was right handed and jumped off my right foot. Despite my complete lack of experience it has fallen on me to be our pole vault coach. The things I do have going for me in this endeavor are a strong desire to learn and a good understanding of body kinematics. I have read a few books already, but one thing that I can not seem to find is anything on choosing a pole for a beginner, which is where this post actually begins.

Everything I have found about selecting poles has involved knowing things about the vaulter that a beginner wouldn't know, such as personal best, grip height, etc. So how would I go about selecting a pole for a vaulter knowing nothing but their height and weight? Is there a special training pole or something like that I should look into? Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks :)

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Re: Poles for Beginners

Unread postby mtisfullofit » Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:13 am

yeah lots on this subject. First any pole will work if it is around the kids weight and not to long when straight sticking warm up and drills. when kids first get jumping most cant bend a pole on their own weight (If jumping right). current pole weight rule just put coaches in a bind. As a coach of a D2 state runner up it was not till the senior year until she started jumping over her weight. The Rules for pole weights really don't help with your kids being safe, rather larger pits and box collar padding has more to do with that. I start my kids out on lighter poles then their weight so they can get some flex in the pole and this can leave a coach in a liability issue. Most kids get hurt during competition when they are jumping too heavy a pole and land short. To compete you will need poles that are equal or greater than your kids weight. I would first call around and see what other schools have for poles that you could beg borrow or trade. poles are not cheap and you want to have a progression of pole lengths if you have a 130# girl you may want a range of poles from 10-6 thru 14 depending on how good she is and the 14 will be used by a boy in that class eventually. The more poles you have the better your kid will be able to transition. If I have a 130 # kid I will have them work with a 120# pole at 10-6 or 11 to start. start near a standing grip and work your way back to the end of the pole which if they are using good form and strong you rarely will get to the end of. If a kid is ending up in the back of the mat and going through the crossbar they need to step up to the next length pole, but using the same grip height so if you were at the end of a 11' pole and go to a 11' 6" you would be at the same grip point as the old one. If they are coming up short they need either more input energy ( longer approach) or back down a pole length at same grip, the pole will get softer. DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS MOVE GRIP HEIGHT WHEN CHANGING TO A LONGER POLE. The longer the pole the more input energy you need and all things being the same the next longer pole should be stiffer at the same grip height Change only one thing at a time or your kids will run into troubles getting into the mat. girls typically don't have the arm strength at the start to bend their weight much. I hate having to fudge kids weights because the rule on pole weights thing is so misguided. Bottom line get a transition of lengths and weights and stair step length first and then weight. the combination of input speed, weight, and length of the pole need to be measured with where the kid is landing. Poor form on the take off along with inconsistent approach speeds can make transitioning a chore. So make sure they have good form! I have seen kids dump on the runway because their coach did not understand the weight relationship when changing to a longer pole. You cant go from the end of a 10-6 to the end of an 11' pole with out issues. Somewhere I saw a 1.6 # increase in weight per inch drop on a pole so a 10" drop on a pole means the pole should handle 16#'s more energy notice I did not say weight. I am sure a strong 130# kid that stayed tucked on a pole "sitting on it" could snap a 140# pole with bad form. Note if your poles are too far spaced apart in length or weight the transitions will be more difficult.

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Re: Poles for Beginners

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 4:58 am

This free video course is a good place to start :) http://nfhslearn.com/courses/40000/coaching-pole-vault

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